The Elderly Care Challenge

Organisation Name Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council supported by the Eastern Academic Health Science Network (EAHSN)
Main contact Elliot Smith
Name of challenge The Elderly Care Challenge: Improve proactive care for the elderly, with a particular focus on Social Isolation, Environmental Controls and Falls.
Brief summary of challenge To identify ways to reduce social isolation in the elderly; to utilise technology to enable severely physically disabled individuals to interact with their environment (for example to turn on lights or open doors) and; to reduce avoidable harm from falls by elderly people at home and outside the home, leveraging Internet of Things technologies, existing commercial solutions and particularly through use of analytics and engagement strategies.

Social isolation is a lack of contact between an individual and society. This can lead to anxiety, depression and affect mental health. Research has shown that, in terms of negative health outcomes, lacking social connections is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and has worse health outcomes than risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity. It has been calculated that loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26% in older people.

Environmental controls are assistive technologies that enable individuals with severe physical disabilities to control their environment and provides a level of independent control of many devices. For example, Letting people in/out of the house;  Calling for attention; control of telephones, lights, sockets (for things like fans, lamps), TVs, DVDs, stereos; curtains and windows.

Falls are estimated to cost the NHS £2.3billion each year. With 1 in 3 people over 65 falling each year, rising to 1 in 2 for adults over 80, injuries caused by falls are common in older people and can cause serious medical complications. Recurrent falls are associated with increased mortality, increased hospitalisation and higher rates of long-term care. (For an overview of the problem see

The benefits to be gained from addressing this challenge are… Elderly people will be enabled to live in their homes for longer and more independently. The health and social care system will provide better care, achieve better outcomes and reduce costs due to falls and emergency admissions for other reasons.
Any work already done and status Social Isolation:

Social Isolation and Loneliness Report

Environmental Controls:
There are a few existing commercial firms offering solutions.

There are a number of other falls solutions in early stages of commercialisation. Generally adoption has been low and evidence for effectiveness of fall prevention and prediction solutions is limited.

Success would look like… The health and social care system will provide better care, achieve better outcomes and reduce costs due to falls and emergency admissions for other reasons.
Support available Support from the Councils in understanding the challenge from a social care perspective and from the Eastern AHSN from a healthcare system viewpoint. The Eastern AHSN can provide longer term support to develop and commercialise a product in this area.
Key skills and technology sought
  • How can Internet of Things data be used to engage individuals (including young people) and social networks to support healthcare for the elderly, particularly staying healthy at home and avoiding falls?
  • What algorithms can be developed with IoT data to aggregate, analyse and predict health issues for preventative care of elderly people at home?
Key attributes of successful challenge teams Ability to analyse existing solutions and build using analytical or new technology insights.

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